Air Canada introduces premium economy and a new high density 777 configuration

Air Canada made some interesting product announcements today, including tighter economy seating, the addition of a premium economy product, and a new business class configuration.

These new cabins will be featured on five of their brand new 777-300ER aircraft, the first of which will start flying between Montreal and Paris on July 11, 2013.

The first change is that Air Canada will be updating their ExecutiveFirst seat from the current herringbone product found on their entire longhaul fleet, to a new staggered business class, much like the ones offered by Austrian, Brussels, Swiss, etc. This new configuration will also be found on their 787 aircraft, if/when they take delivery of them.

Current ExecutiveFirst configuration

New ExecutiveFirst configuration

In addition to that they’ll also be introducing a premium economy product on their new 777-300ER aircraft, in a 2-4-2 configuration. This will come with priority check-in and boarding, as well as better onboard service including amenity kits, hot towels, better meal service, larger pillows, etc.

In terms of premium economy pricing, it seems like they’re trying to charge double as much as the entry level economy fare for it, which seems a bit high to me. Then again it’s a really small cabin at only 24 seats, so maybe as the lower fare classes sell out they’ll have no problems selling it.

The funny thing is that in the process of adding premium economy they’re also adding a seat per row in regular economy, going from a 3-3-3 configuration to a 3-4-3 configuration.

You can find the seatmap for the new 777-300ER here, and as you can see it has 458 seats, which is more seats than several airlines have on their Airbus 380. As a point of comparison American has only 304 seats on their new 777-300ERs.

The trend in the industry is certainly to add a premium economy product, so I’m hardly surprised to see Air Canada do that. However, it’s not clear from the announcement whether or not Air Canada has plans to add it to the remainder of their fleet, and I just don’t see the reasoning behind offering it on just a handful of aircraft, as it seems like the product would be much easier to market/executive if it were featured throughout their longhaul fleet.

(Tip of the hat to Shaun)

Filed Under: Air Canada
  1. Ouch – that sounds tight!

    I haven’t flown AC’s current Executive First product, but this feels / looks like a serious downgrade from a personal space perspective.

    It’s also going to be REAL cozy in economy – 17″ seat width for longhauls?!?!

  2. @ Lantean — Definitely not a typo. 36 seats in ExecutiveFirst, 24 seats in premium economy, and 398 seats in economy.

  3. They’re putting 36 Executive First seats between the first 2 doors – in a space that was used for only 24 in the current herringbone setup.

  4. I have been on the herring bones from SYD to YVR and it was OK, mainly I felt due to direct aisle access
    A bit below UA F but above UA C
    This looks to bring the bar down further to UA C or below

  5. I think as Lucky has pointed out F is dying everywhere
    Biz is the new F
    Premium economy has become the new Business
    and economy is getting worse and more packed

  6. 3-4-3 is the new 777 trend, sadly, for Y. AA’s new -300s have it, along with reportedly a 1″ decrease to pitch. Having done 10-across on NZ’s 773, it’s not fun at all.

  7. AC actually posted the following on FT regarding the new J seats: “However, the seating configuration and onboard product of these new 777s will not be the same as the new standard that will be delivered in 2014 with the Boeing 787.”

  8. Terrible.

    Y class pitch goes from 32″ to 31″ !!! OUCH Super sardine class. AC is in a race to the bottom to become like Air Transat.

  9. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in Economy on this plane – 31′ seat pitch is tight, but the real problem is the 17′ width – a regular Airbus 320 is 20′! Let’s pray you have a supermodel or a small kid next to you!

  10. AA is just as crammed AC in the back, it’s just that the back in ACs planes is way bigger (both 10 abreast with 31″ pitch).

  11. Another downgrade for AC.
    The AE program has been slashed and now AC is after the cheap tourist or forced to pay more for aerolotto. Not looking forward to this change.

  12. Was hoping for the new US Airways style “suites”, though it’s still a step up from the herringbones.

    No plans for the A330s to get the new seats?

  13. @lucky AC clearly indicated that the new interior product for the 787 will not be similar to the 777 expected to be delivered this year

  14. Boeing 777-300 Vancouver-London Heathrow 2 Sep 2014

    The new business class studio pod is TERRIBLE – narrow, short and ridiculously sized and shaped. It’s okay as a seat, but I paid for a good night’s sleep. Forget it! I’m 6ft 4 and when the seat turns into a bed, it slides the lower half of your body into a tiny plastic coffin-like box (in the area under the armrests of the two passengers in front) with no room to move your legs at all, and it wasn’t long enough for me – so it wasn’t humanly possible to lie down!! Hell on earth. As a result, I arrived at LHR tired and irritable, lacking the sleep I had needed and deliberately paid for. The cabin crew was brilliant, but they told me that a lot of other business class passengers had complained about this new seat. It’s also difficult to get the seat back up again from a supposed “bed”. My seat 2A on C-FIVO was also missing a seat-based flexible reading light. It is a reasonably new aircraft so why on earth was that missing?

    Basically, Air Canada has decided to shove more seats in every class onto this aircraft at the expense of comfort and space, and every passenger is short-changed as a result. The 777-300ER that normally takes 359 passengers is being converted to 458 passengers – mine was one of them. The passenger loses. I have read that it is a plan to reduce cost per seat by 15%. It is a total disgrace – avoid this aircraft at all costs. Air Canada used to be a great airline but it is heading downhill. I have sent two emails, two letters to the LHR office and two letters to Calin Rovinescu: the CEO of Air Canada. No reply of any kind has been received to date. Air Canada really doesn’t care anymore. If this is the way Air Canada is going, then it’s time to change airlines folks.

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